Panel approves amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Law

THE House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries has approved a bill amending the anti-money laundering law that was certified as an urgent measure by President Benigno Aquino III.

Rep. Sergio Apostol (2nd District, Leyte), chairman of the house body, said there is a need to comprehensively address the strategic deficiencies of RA 10167, which covered only two provisions of the AMLA through the needed reforms embodied in House Bill 6565 which was certified as urgent by Malacañang.

The bill seeks to amend several provision of Republic Act 10167 specifically sections 10 and 11 of the law.

House Bill 6565, authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II as contained in Committee Report No. 2434 substituted House Bills 6557 authored by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora) and 6611 authored by Reps. Sherwin Tugna and Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales (Party-list, CIBAC), seeks to strengthen further the anti-money laundering law by making it compliant with updated and revised international anti-money laundering counter-terrorist financing standards.

The bill, which defines money laundering as a crime under the AMLA, pertains only to the transaction or an attempted transaction of the proceeds of any unlawful activity as defined under the said Act. It does not include conversion, transfer, disposition, movement, acquisition, possession, use, concealment or disguise of the proceeds.

The law also failed to comply with the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the Vienna Convention), thus, there is an imperative need to revise or broaden the definition to include conversion, transfer, disposition, movement, acquisition, possession, use, concealment or disguise of the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

The bill likewise includes designated non-financial businesses and professions as reporting institutions such as casinos; real estate agents; dealers in precious metals; dealers in precious stones and trust company service providers.  The list of financial institutions was also expanded.

The measure seeks to include in the AMLA all other designated categories of offenses not previously considered as predicate offenses to money laundering such as terrorism under the Human Security Act of 2007, terrorist financing, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of children, corruption and bribery, forgery and environmental crime.

It also grants the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) the authority to file civil forfeiture cases upon determination of probable cause and impose administrative sanctions.

Further, the measure allows the AMLC to retain 25% of net proceeds of forfeited assets.

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